I will never forget those words. No, they didn’t come from a therapist, they came from my attorney.
I had hired this attorney for what was supposed to be a quickie divorce from abuser #2, and ended up asking his advice and hiring him for several issues with Ted. I showed him several emails between Ted and I. Email is the only way we communicate for several reasons.
1) This was the only method of communication endorsed by our parent coordinator during our two years with her.
2) I have done research on high conflict divorce and this is also the preferred method of communication and
3) I learned the hard way that partial phone conversations are admissible in court in my state, if one party is aware of the recording.
My attorney told me it was obvious in our emails that Ted sucks me into his drama by pushing my buttons and sitting back and waiting for the eruption. Even though I am reacting to drama Ted is creating, if these emails ever made it to court, I look just as bad or even worse.
And here I thought I was showing my new found strength by no longer allowing Ted to bulldoze and bully me. I was wrong. He told me I was giving Ted power by still allowing him to manipulate me.
Huh….well holy crap. This totally made sense.
(insert picture of heavens opening up, and birds singing in my moment of revelation…totally could not find a pic to give it justice)
He went on to tell me Ted would NEVER stop trying to push my buttons, no matter what new life he is trying to “show” he is making for himself, and if I choose NOT to react, Ted will eventually hang himself by spewing something we can use in court.
I thought about this a lot and tried to implement my attorney’s instructions when communicating with Ted.
Damn, it took a lot of practice.
The first change I noticed was IN ME. I didn’t shake NEARLY as much when opening emails from Ted, because I knew I didn’t need to come up with a nasty response. I am emotionally better by not reacting.
I was “showing him” by not “showing him”. My attorney prepared me for worsening behavior from Ted, and boy, did it come. I realized I was pushing Ted’s buttons by NOT reacting. It started out with sickeningly over dramatic “thank you” for finally changing my horrible behavior in an effort to do as he had begged for sooooo long and just simply get along.
Ted worked his way up to nutso level from there. I lost focus and stumbled along the way, even went “mama bear” a few times when Ted was hurting Grant and Kristy just to hurt me more. Then, during another pep talk from my attorney, he went so far as to say NOT to answer Ted unless an answer is REQUIRED. “Keep it to two sentences if possible. The more you say, the more Ted smiles because he is bringing reaction. Hand him the rope to tie his own noose.”
It took over a year to master this. It’s very hard to be controlled for so long, finally break free, then continue to be slammed and bulldozed over and over by the person I divorced to get away from it all. I am truly taking back my power, by not allowing myself to get sucked into the drama. He needs attention from me, and it is up to me to put my sword down and show him I am stronger, because I am choosing silence.